For more than thirty years, Lynne Cohen has been photographing interior spaces devoid of people – laboratories, health spas, waiting rooms, classrooms. Their décor, sometimes kitschy, often funny, even if the humour reinforces the aspect of suspense, even of uneasiness. The rigorous framing, the distancing always much the same, the light that puts things in relief and the colour make the images seem constructed. By elaborating on the seemingly fictional quality of the spaces, the purposes of which are frequently ill-defined, Lynne Cohen plays up an aspect of social control, one that makes itself apparent in strange ways. The title of the book plays with multiple means of the English word ‘Cover’, which can mean lid, embellishment, protection or concealment. It refers to the book itself, a cross between documentary photography and contemporary art, sense and nonsense, the ordinary and dream-like. After Camouflage in 2005, Cover is the second book Cohen has published with Le Point du Jour. It brings together colour work from the past 10 years.
Since the early 1970s Cohen has been photographing living rooms, men’s clubs, classrooms, spas and military installations. Trained as a sculptor and printmaker, when Pop Art and Minimalism were dominant in the art world, she has a long-standing interest in the artificial and the everyday. She focuses on the psychological, sociological and political aspects of her subjects. But primarily she is concerned with the way things appear and function in our lives. As she once observed, “I feel as if the world can’t be like it is. It seems full of finished works of art.” The disorientation her photographs provoke is largely the result of the specific and mysterious nature of the places she photographs with their odd symmetries and disjunctions. Her work is marked by a strong visual and formal sense, one that conspires with the content to get under one’s skin. In conjunction with her art work, she has conducted workshops in Europe and North America and was for some thirty years a university teacher both in Canada and the United States. A major retrospective exhibition (accompanied by a new book, Cover) will open in July 2009 in Cherbourg at Le Point du Jour. website.